Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: Brown: Poems

Brown: Poems Brown: Poems by Kevin Young
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my favorite collection from Kevin Young yet!

Publisher blurb: "Divided into “Home Recordings” and “Field Recordings,” Brown speaks to the way personal experience is shaped by culture, while culture is forever affected by the personal, recalling a black Kansas boyhood to comment on our times."

Kansas boyhood= baseball poetry
Our times= moving, devastating tributes to young black men killed needlessly.

My favorites include all the parts of "De La Soul is Dead," which quotes a different 90s song in each one, and "Hive."

I received an advanced reader copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss. It comes out April 17, 2018.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Review: The Little Clan

The Little Clan The Little Clan by Iris Martin Cohen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A debut novel!

I loved this in the beginning, when it was about an awkward twenty-something working in a private library of a dusty club in New York City. When her "best friend" returns and causes havoc, the entire book shifts to focus on everything about that situation, masking the underlying story of identity and discovery that really felt like the heart of the novel. Ultimately I was left feeling the pacing was off, and I would have preferred a longer ending, and a lot less Stephanie.

Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to view this title early through Edelweiss. It comes out April 17, 2018.

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Review: Death by Dumpling

Death by Dumpling Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun little debut cozy set in a Chinese neighborhood in Cleveland. I liked that the amateur detective, Lana Lee, is a bit of a failure at life, recently moving back in with her parents and waitressing at the family restaurant. Because of this she gets pulled into a murder-by-poison situation, and decides to take things into her own hands.

I can't ever say much about mysteries because the uncovering of details is the pleasure of the book, but I was never bored.

Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title through Edelweiss. The book came out March 27, 2018.



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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Reading Envy 115: Quote, Unquote

Jenny sits down in the Reading Envy pub with a friend known to many Litsy buddy reads and challenges - Scott Eaton, aka vivastory. We chat about true crime, vampires, character studies, and more.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 115: Quote, Unquote.

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Books Discussed:



The Slynx by Tatyana Tolstaya
Virgin by Analicia Sotelo
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
The Hunger by Alma Katsu
Stephen Florida by Gabe Habash
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper

Other Mentions: 

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
NYRB Classics
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
Graywolf Press
The Loft Literary Center
Robert Bly
Eileen Miller
Marlon James
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh
Marlena by Julie Buntin
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What We Do in the Shadows (film)
The Golden Ass translated by Robert Graves
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown
Refuge by Dina Nayeri


Related Episodes:

Episode 092 - Reading Friends Sarah and Preston

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Scott is @vivastory on Litsy

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Review: New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set

New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set by Kwame Dawes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read all the New-Generation African Poets chapbook sets from Akashic, and always find poets I had not heard of, leading to long rabbit holes in YouTube and elsewhere on the internet. I was very excited to see a new set and jumped into it as soon as National Poetry Month hit. This grouping has some poets from and still living in Africa, some born to African parents but living elsewhere, and some who have never lived in Africa, but their heritage comes from African parents. I was noticing more fragmentation even in the layout of these poems than what I remember in previous sets, and I think that resonates with the feelings of dislocation that many of these poets write about. Many have been displaced by conflict, war, rape, murder, independence; some have had the experience of returning "home" only to discover that they no longer feel the same sense of belonging. There is a lot of recent violence here, and it is painful, but the poems capture it, hold space for it, both soothing and not stepping away from the horrors that have been some of these poets experiences.

There are also poems about nature, family, love, longing, etc. The parts I picked out are not representative of the works as a whole but simply moments that caught me as I read through them. Each poet has their own chapbook with its own cover, and an introduction written by a poet, many whose names I recognized from their own previous chapbooks. I love the continuity this series feels like it has.

Favorite bits:

Thurible by Yalie Kamara (first generation Sierra Leonean-American)

Non-Compliance by Alexis Teyie

Fasting in Tunis by Leila Chatti (Tunisian American)

Time by Saddiq Dzukogi (Nigeria)

Insignia by Saddiq Dzukogi
"Keep your body
like a neighboring country
close to mine...."

We Don't Know Where We Belong by Rasaq Malik (Nigeria)

Gay Boy History by Romeo Oriogun
"What they want is for me to say I'm sorry
but I'm beautiful like a museum...."

Denial by Romeo Oriogun

Thanks to the publisher for providing early access to this title via Edelweiss. It is available April 10, 2018.

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Review: American by Day

American by Day American by Day by Derek B. Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After I notoriously did not care much for Norwegian by Night, unlike the rest of my book club, I was a bit hesitant to pick up the sequel. But I was interested in the idea that it was about a periphery character in the first novel, one I didn't like all that much, the female Norwegian cop, but focusing on her journey to upstate New York to try to find her brother. It's lucky she did because he is a suspect in a murder case and people are closing in. (Also lucky because he is an adjunct professor and could never afford to defend himself.)

I liked her personal journey, questioning herself about the man she shot and killed, which of course in Norway is hugely rare. I liked the discussions about police shootings in the United States but it all had a distasteful tinge of white people sitting around talking about race instead of actually including anyone they're talking about (except as victims of shootings) so ... I am not sure that is helping anything. There's some in here about mental health and privilege too.

If this series continues I'm guessing the American sheriff might be the next main character, as he has some complexities to him, such as wearing cowboy boots so people make the wrong assumptions, but really he has degrees in theology and other things like that. The setting is ripe for more stories, a small upstate town with no major industry anymore, lots of poverty and drugs. It would be nice to see this play out through characters who actually live there rather than these random Norwegians that the author keeps wanting to write about.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an eARC; this book came out April 3 and I'm a bit behind.

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

Books Read March 2018: 49-73

Note: I forgot to add A Wrinkle in Time when I was adding up February, so that is the missing book between February and March.


Pictured: 5-star reviews for March

49. The Break by Katherena Vermetta **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
50. This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins **** (audiobook from Hoopla; my review)
51. The Adulterants by Joe Dunthorne **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
52. Trick by Domenico Starnone **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
53. The Hunger by Alma Katsu **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
54. Another City: Poems by David Keplinger **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
55. Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance by Fady Joudah **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
56. Buttermilk Graffiti by Edward Lee ***** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
57. Apocalypse Child: A Life in End Times by Flor Edwards (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
58. Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper **** (personal copy audiobook; my review)
59. In a Day's Work by Bernice Yeung **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
60. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot **** (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
61. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi **** (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
62. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner ***** (personal copy; my review)
63. Every Note Played by Lisa Genova **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
64. The Path of Insight Meditation by Jack Kornfield **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
65. Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
66. Gods of Howl Mountain by Taylor Brown **** (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
67. The Sky Unwashed by Irene Zabytko **** (personal copy; my review)
68. Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews *** (Audible audiobook; my review)
69. Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai **** (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
70. The New Farm by Brent Preston **** (physical review copy; my review)
71. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Abertalli **** (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
72. To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey ***** (personal copy; my review)
73. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas ***** (personal copy; my review)